Monday, April 26, 2010

Boobquake: More Trivial Titillation than Protest...

Looks like some women made boobs of themselves for naught.

Did you notice more T&A than usual today? If you did, you can thank the organizers of ‘boobquake,’ a call-to-action organized by women on Facebook to mock an Iranian cleric who blamed earthquakes on women who wear “immodest dress.” The leader of the ‘boobquake’ pack is a 22-year-old American who urged women to dress scantily and “embrace the supernatural power of their breasts.”

Talk about dumb luck. A 6.9 magnitude tremblor struck today off the coast of Taiwan, just as women were set to show off their boobs. The quake’s underwater rumbling was strong enough to be felt in Taipei. Initial reports indicate it didn’t cause any damage, except possibly to the boobquakers’ cause. Anyone think cleric Kazem Sedighi will distort the news as proof of his asinine claims? So be it. (Seismic activity happens daily, in any case.)

‘Boobquake’ was a misguided, intelligence-offending idea from the start; one unlikely to have any real impact except to demonstrate that women in wealthy, Western societies can be as immature as men about female sexuality. This 'protest' makes as much sense as a similar movement in 1929 when a group of women demonstrated their 'equal rights' by smoking in public and calling their cigarettes 'torches of freedom.'

And, unfortunately, 'boobquake' also revealed that women here can be a bit oblivious and irresponsible about our role in protecting and advancing the human rights of truly disadvantaged women around the globe. It spawned a 'counter-revolutionary movement,' formed by two Iranian women, called Brainquake. The fact they they did so, speaks volumes.

The more news coverage I read about ‘boobquake,’ the more it bugged me. And when I spotted a feature article online today with a photo of a woman sporting black lingerie and announcing her plans to wear the ensemble to work, I thought, ‘These women have totally lost the plot.’

The implicit message screams: ‘Check me out!’ and not much more. Okay, well maybe it also screams ‘impulsive, self-indulgent and exhibitionist,’ but still, not much else.

The whole ‘boobquake’ caper trivializes – even negates - the daily realities of life for so many truly oppressed women around the world. And imagine how galling this must seem to the young Iranian female soccer (football) players who were excluded from the Youth Olympics this month by FIFA because their uniforms include the traditional Muslim hijab (headscarf)? Or how irrational is must appear to the Muslim woman in Quebec forced out of school for wearing a niqab (veil)?

We haven't quite figured out how to accommodate faith-based dress in our society. That said, we are largely free in our culture to wear what we want. So are men. And when either dresses to shock - or just plain dresses like a fool – riducule is the worst punishment we face. Compare that to countries , like Sudan, where women can be beaten or jailed for wearing “offensive” clothing.

Yesterday, the same day that ‘boobquake’ rocked Facebook, the media paid more attention to it than to yet another suspected attack against school girls in Afghanistan. Almost 80 girls have fallen sick at school and it’s feared they inhaled noxious fumes which were released to scare them away from school. Afghanistan is not the only nation where that happens.

Elsewhere around the world: rape is endemic in war zones. Many women still die in childbirth in developing nations. Poverty is significantly worse in nations where gender disparity is greatest. According to the UN more than a billion people live in extreme poverty, most of them women and children. Girls in South Asia are being denied access to education.

And in Western nations like Canada and the United States, women live with arguably the greatest freedom our gender has ever known. Can’t we do better for our global sisters than to offer up titillation masked – or unmasked – as protest?

Of course we can. And women with privilege and advantage must step up if the lives of children and women around the world are going to be improved.

The intertubes are filled with many websites that advocate on women’s behalf, like:;

Stephen Lewis’s foundation, at dedicated to helping women with AIDS in Africa;

and there’s always advocating on behalf of children.

“Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.” ~Margaret Mead

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ready Gleeks!

Glee finally returns, tonight on Fox after American Idol...